Best Hikes with Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades
by Joan Burton (The Mountaineers Books)
© Joan Burton/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.
The road to the trailhead is not well-marked and is so long I thought a hundred times I must have wandered off the path and was now driving aimlessly along unnamed forest service roads. It was very surprising then to reach the parking lot and find dozens and dozens of cars. Obviously this was a popular destination and I hadn't realized it. The trail began in new growth forest, and quickly got into the older trees, with the thick padding of needles and tree-dust that makes walking so much nicer. Damfino Lakes were a pleasant discovery, with the blueberries ringing the shore. It's a steady climb then, zigzagging up the forested hill, until you round a bend and break out into a steeply inclining sort of meadow that, at the time when I went, was aflame with some sort of plant that turned the most brilliant red in the fall. At the end of the meadow, the trail dips down to a streambed, where you have to do a little jump down some boulders to cross the water. My new water bladder had sprung a leak (all down the back of my shorts, which must have given other hikers all sorts of laughs) so when I saw that beautiful icy cold, swiftly flowing water, I knew I had to stop and get a drink. I'm lucky I haven't gotten sick doing that. It's not the wisest choice, I know. From there, its a climb up bare hillsides, gathering elevation, to where the full range is available. I was lucky enough to reach the top just as the sun set, and was greeted with the most amazing array of pink-tipped peaks (that doesn't sound right somehow). It only took about 40 minutes to scramble back down the trail for home, trying to stay ahead of the dark, and even though I know it's best to avoid hiking that close to dark, that view was worth a great deal.
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